news 2014



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Life Sciences - Environment - 29.12.2014
Time adds a wrinkle to nature and nurture
Time adds a wrinkle to nature and nurture
Nature and nurture have found a new companion - historical context. A new study has produced the best evidence yet that the role of genetics in complex traits, including obesity, varies over time. Both the era in which scientific research is conducted and the era in which subjects were born may have an impact on the degree to which genetic factors are present in scientific data.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 24.12.2014
Climate change threat to mussels’ shells
The world's mussel population could be under threat as climate change causes oceans to become increasingly acidic, scientists have discovered. In a new paper published today (Wednesday 24 December) in the Royal Society's journal Interface , researchers from the University of Glasgow describe how mussels' shells become more brittle when they are formed in more acidic water.

Astronomy / Space - Environment - 23.12.2014
Making the most of a shitty situation
The distinctive "fecal prints" of microbes potentially provide a record of how Earth and life have co-evolved over the past 3.5 billion years as the planet's temperature, oxygen levels, and greenhouse gases have changed. But, despite more than 60 years of study, it has proved difficult, until now, to "read" much of the information contained in this record.

Health - Environment - 18.12.2014
On the environmental trail of food pathogens
Tracking one of the deadliest food contamination organisms through produce farms and natural environments alike, Cornell microbiologists are showing how to use big datasets to predict where the next outbreak could start. Be careful where you drink One of the natural-environment sites for the listeria survey was Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management area, the 11,645-acre, mostly evergreen forest that is many Ithacans' favorite place for hiking, bird watching, skiing, horseback riding, primitive camping, fishing and other nonmotorized activities.

Environment - Astronomy / Space - 15.12.2014
Migrating ’supraglacial’ lakes could trigger future Greenland ice loss
Predictions of Greenland ice loss and its impact on rising sea levels may have been greatly underestimated, according to scientists at the University of Leeds. The finding follows a new study, which is published today , in which the future distribution of lakes that form on the ice sheet surface from melted snow and ice – called supraglacial lakes – have been simulated for the first time.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 15.12.2014
Past global warming similar to today’s, but in two pulses
Lee Siegel, University of Utah, 801-581-8993, 801-244-5399, lee.siegel [a] utah (p) edu or Jim Erickson, University of Michigan, 734-647-1842, ericksn [a] umich (p) edu ANN ARBOR-The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers at the University of Utah, the University of Michigan and three other universities found.

Environment - Physics - 15.12.2014
CryoSat extends its reach on the Arctic
15 December 2014 CryoSat has delivered this year's map of autumn sea-ice thickness in the Arctic, revealing a small decrease in ice volume. In a new phase for ESA's ice mission, the measurements can now also be used to help vessels navigate through the north coastal waters of Alaska, for example. Measurements made during October and November show that the volume of Arctic sea ice now stands at about 10 200 cubic km - a small drop compared to last year's 10 900 cubic km.

Life Sciences - Environment - 12.12.2014
Kangaroos eating reptiles out of house and home »
Large numbers of kangaroos are threatening an endangered species and are eating some lizards out of house and home, new research has found. Australian National University (ANU) researcher Brett Howland has found large kangaroo numbers destroy the grassland habitats of reptiles. "When there are too many kangaroos, they over-graze grasslands until they are like a lawn, which leaves lizards with no shelter," said Mr Howland, from the Fenner School of Environment and Society.

Physics - Environment - 12.12.2014
Composite plane life cycle assessment shows lighter planes are the future
Composite plane life cycle assessment shows lighter planes are the future
A global fleet of composite planes could reduce carbon emissions by up to 15 per cent, but the lighter planes alone will not enable the aviation industry to meet its emissions targets, according to new research. The study, by the Universities of Sheffield, Cambridge and University College London, is the first to carry out a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) of a composite plane, such as the Boeing Dreamliner 787 or Airbus 350, and extrapolate the results to the global fleet.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 11.12.2014
Researchers project Southern California rainfall levels through end of century
Models show more precipitation will be rain instead of snow, which would increase flood risk and limit chance to capture water Alison Hewitt Courtesy C-CHANGE.LA Regional water managers said the study shows the need for increased investment in storm water capture infrastructure. A UCLA study published today provides the most detailed scientific projections to date of how climate change will affect rainfall and snowfall in Southern California through the end of the 21st century.

Life Sciences - Environment - 10.12.2014
Rapid climate change likely to challenge animal resilience
Rapid climate change likely to challenge animal resilience
Animals that regulate their body temperature through the external environment may be resilient to some climate change but not keep pace with rapid change, leading to potentially disastrous outcomes for biodiversity. The study by The University of Queensland and the University of Sydney showed many animals can modify the function of their cells and organs to compensate for changes in the climate and have done so in the past.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 09.12.2014
Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane
Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane
Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water.

Environment - Life Sciences - 04.12.2014
Some plants evolve tolerance to deer
Some plants evolve tolerance to deer
Rampant deer have long been munching away on forest plants and altering ecosystems, but new evidence suggests some plants are evolving tolerance to being eaten. An experiment with 26 populations of orange jewelweed ( Impatiens capensis ), a common wetland native plant, found that historically browsed populations tolerated being eaten by deer far better than historically protected plant populations.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 03.12.2014
Birds conform to local 'traditions'
New findings debunk theories that over hunting by early humans led to the disappearance of mastodons from the Arctic and Subarctic. New dates show they were wiped out locally before human colonisation. The paper publishedáin the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the Arctic and Subarctic were just temporary "holiday homes" for mastodons when the local climate was warm around 125,000 years ago.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 03.12.2014
Small volcanoes make a dent in global warming
New research shows that relatively small volcanic eruptions can increase aerosol particles in the atmosphere, temporarily mitigating the global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The impact of such smaller eruptions has been underestimated in climate models, the researchers say, and helps to account for a discrepancy between those models and the actual temperatures observed over the last 15 years.

Health - Environment - 02.12.2014
Air pollution in Delhi is worse during winter, international research study shows
As the cold weather sets in, a quantitative analysis on particulate matter (PM) in Delhi has highlighted that residents are exposed to significantly higher levels of air pollutants in the Indian capital during winter than in summer. Air pollution continues to be one of the key global environmental challenges and is widespread in India, with Delhi, most notably, experiencing major air quality problems.

Environment - 02.12.2014
Research confirms how global warming links to carbon emissions
The team have derived the first theoretical equation to demonstrate that global warming is a direct result of the build-up of carbon emissions Research by the University of Liverpool has identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted. A team of researchers from the Universities of Liverpool, Southampton and Bristol have derived the first theoretical equation to demonstrate that global warming is a direct result of the build-up of carbon emissions since the late 1800s when man-made carbon emissions began.

Life Sciences - Environment - 01.12.2014
Predators and isolation shape the evolution of 'island tameness,' providing conservation insights
Predators and isolation shape the evolution of ’island tameness,’ providing conservation insights
ANN ARBOR-Charles Darwin noted more than 150 years ago that animals on the Galapagos Islands, including finches and marine iguanas, were more docile than mainland creatures. He attributed this tameness to the fact that there are fewer predators on remote islands. While "island tameness" is an old idea, there have been few rigorous studies of the phenomenon.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 01.12.2014
New research highlights the key role of ozone in climate change
The models which are used to predict how climate change will occur could be much improved by including the key role of ozone, which is often overlooked in current models. These models are the only tools we have in terms of predicting the future impacts of climate change Peer Nowack Many of the complex computer models which are used to predict climate change could be missing an important ozone 'feedback' factor in their calculations of future global warming, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and published today (1 December) .

Environment - 28.11.2014
Can we create an energy efficient Internet?
With the number of Internet connected devices rapidly increasing, researchers from Melbourne are starting a new research program to reduce energy consumption of such devices. Led by the Centre for Energy-Efficient Tele (CEET) at the University of Melbourne, the program will develop new hardware and cloud-based solutions to improving efficiency of energy consumption.
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